USC is 43-21 since 2009, Carroll’s last season, and the last season before the NCAA sanctioned the program. Carroll skipped to the NFL and Kiffin was hired away from Tennessee by former athletic director Mike Garrett in 2010.
Kiffin was fired by Haden with a 28-15 record.
Kiffin and the 39-year-old Sarkisian are friends and worked together as offensive assistants for Carroll during USC’s dominant run during the 2000s.
Sarkisian inherited a Washington program coming off the first 0-12 record in school history under coach Tyrone Willingham.
After going 5-7 in his first season, Sarkisian took the Huskies to a bowl game each of the next four seasons, but they were stuck on seven wins for three years. The Huskies finished this regular season 8-4, with a victory over Washington State in last Friday’s Apple Cup.
Sarkisian said after Friday’s victory that he was thankful he no longer had to answer questions about the seven-win barrier.
“We’re a better team today that we were a year ago, and a year ago we were a better team than a year before that,” Sarkisian said after the 27-17 victory. “Sometimes games go the way they go and you don’t get the call or you don’t get the catch or you make the one bad call as a coach. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a good football team or you aren’t a better team than you were a year before.”
Sarkisian was in the middle of a contract that runs through 2015 and paid him about $2.25 million per year before jumping to $2.85 million in the final season.
Sarkisian arrived in Seattle trumpeting that he would help Washington return to the elite of the Pac-12. The Huskies at least got back to respectability, but their attempts at finally joining the upper echelon of the conference this season were turned back in losses to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State. He never defeated the Ducks in his tenure, an issue that stuck with Washington fans tired of getting beaten up by their neighbors to the south.
Sarkisian is the first Washington coach to voluntarily leave for another position since Darrell Royal in 1956 when he departed for Texas. Royal was at Washington for one season.